Bits ‘n pieces from east, west and beyond

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East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

A group of Rhode Island students has filed a lawsuit claiming their constitutional rights were violated because their schools failed to teach them about voting, serving on juries or basic government functions. Students in Detroit filed a similar suit, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Research from McGill University has linked air pollution with brain cancer. A yearlong exposure to increased pollution, like going from a quiet city street to a busy one, can increase brain cancer risk by 10 percent. Currently there are an estimated 53,000 deaths caused by air pollution in the U.S. (from lung cancer, stroke and heart disease) every year, The Guardian reported.

Table scrap for dogs: Don’t feed your pets fried or fatty foods, sugary foods and highly spiced or processed foods, recommended online veterinary columnist Dr. Karen Becker. The healthiest treats for canines are carrots, cottage cheese and blueberries.

The Hill, after an interview with Sen. Richard Blumenthall (D-Conn.), learned that up to 10 of his Republican colleagues are uncomfortable with Sen. Mitch McConnell’s plans to tightly coordinate the president’s impeachment trial with the White House. So far, the only Republicans to publicly express misgivings about McConnell’s stance of denying the use of witnesses and documents are senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

The EPA reauthorized cyanide bombs for trapping, TIME magazine reports. The bombs spray the trapped animal, and have harmed people and pets. Death occurs after asphyxiation. Under the new rules, the traps can be placed 600 feet from homes and 300 feet from human pathways.

After a lengthy history of warnings against eating too much red and processed meat, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine said supposed links to negative health consequences are insignificant. Confused, AARP interviewed Yale’s David Katz, M.D., founder of the True Health Initiative. Katz said the AIM study used data analysis designed for drug trials, not food, which skewed results. In actuality, Katz said there are 325,000 deaths annually stemming from consuming too much red and processed meat — “like two jumbo jets crashing every day.”

While bark beetles are munching their way through weakened forests, research is showing that there may be a solution better than standard tree thinning: DNA. It can show what trees have the ability to adapt to stresses from climate change.

Those trees can be left standing during thinning and logging operations. It’s called landscape genomics, Mother Jones reported. Existing DNA technology used for breeding fruit trees can be adapted to evaluate trees’ risks to changes in temperature, moisture and pathogens, said plant sciences professor David Neale of University of California-Davis. In his lab, a machine grinds tree needles and finds their DNA code.

Blast from this past year: Sweden’s 16-year-old Greta Thunberg went from skipping school — to protest her parliament’s lack of progress addressing climate change — to serving as a catalyst for massive pro-environment rallies around the world. Her first literature included climate change facts and a statement: “Since you adults don’t give a damn about my future, I won’t either.”

Actions taken since Thunberg’s first foray into the limelight include: the European Union will tax imports from countries that don’t act on climate change; KLM Airline launched a campaign encouraging people to only fly if necessary; the CEO of the World Economic Forum has called on business leaders to embrace responsible capitalism that includes environmental stewardship; more than 60 countries have pledged to eliminate their carbon footprints by 2050; and, TIME magazine reported, three-quarters of Americans now regard climate change as either a crisis or a major problem.

In a typically succinct statement, Thunberg told the U.N. General Assembly: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”

And another blast, with a different climate stance: “We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right? So they make these things and then they put them up,” said President Donald Trump, in a statement made Dec. 22 at a Turning Point USA Student Action Summit.

He has also stated that noise from windmills can cause cancer.

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